U.S. steps up airstrikes against Taliban in Afghanistan


International troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, and the security situation is worsening. The U.S. also wants out of the country – but it is now increasing the number of its airstrikes.

The U.S. plans to continue supporting government forces there with airstrikes against the Taliban during its ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan. “The United States has increased air strikes in support of Afghan forces in recent days. And we are prepared to continue that increased level of support in the coming weeks as the Taliban continue their attacks,” Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who is in charge of the region, said Sunday at a news conference in the capital, Kabul. He would not comment on whether the U.S. plans to continue this after the planned end of its military mission on Aug. 31.

Insecurity in Afghanistan has increased considerably in recent weeks. Since the troops of the German Armed Forces have been withdrawn and the U.S. is also increasingly leaving the country, the Taliban are advancing. They have already taken control of many districts in the country. Talks between them and the government in Kabul have so far been fruitless.

From 1996 until their overthrow by U.S.-led troops in 2001, the Taliban had ruled Afghanistan and massively curtailed human rights. The U.S. intervened in Afghanistan at the head of a NATO alliance shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In Kandahar province alone, 20,000 families on the run
In Afghanistan’s Kandahar province alone, more than 20,000 families have fled because of fighting between the radical Islamic Taliban and the military. “The fighting has displaced 22,000 families in Kandahar in the past month,” Dost Mohammed Darjab, head of the refugee agency in the southern Afghan province, told the AFP news agency on Sunday. Kandahar was a stronghold of Islamists during the Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001.

Authorities in Kandahar have set up four camps for the estimated 154,000 displaced people. Fighting continued Sunday in the outskirts of Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city with 650,000 residents. The Taliban had captured his house, reported Hafis Mohammed Akbar, a resident of Kandahar. “They forced us to leave. I am now living with my family of 20 in a building without a toilet.”

Meanwhile, the Afghan Interior Ministry announced the arrest of four suspects believed responsible for the rocket fire in Kabul earlier this week. They are said to belong to the Taliban, although the jihadist militia Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack. In the attack, at least three rockets had struck near the presidential palace on Tuesday during official ceremonies marking the Islamic festival of sacrifice, Eid al-Adha.



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